Japanese rescue robots shared as Chinese 'cadaver collecting' machines

By: Ishita Goel
August 11 2023

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Japanese rescue robots shared as Chinese 'cadaver collecting' machines


The Verdict False

A robot developed in Japan for rescue missions during disasters has been falsely claimed to be a Chinese "cadaver collecting machine.

Claim ID c5f7bc94

What is the claim?
A clip showing a robot lifting humans circulating on social media claims to show "cadaver collecting machine" developed in China.

The video was shared with a caption alleging, "Developers in China have created and begun testing cadaver collecting machines. According to the designers, this robot with artificial intelligence on board is designed for non-contact collection of infected corpses directly from the streets." In the video, a team of uniformed people can be seen monitoring the robot. One particular post garnered 1,55,400 views and 1,551 likes at the time of writing this story. Archives of the post can be accessed here, and here.

Source: (X/@UltraDane/Altered by Logically Facts)

What are the facts?
Through a reverse image search, we found that the robots are from Japan, and not China. A science writer, Kazumichi Moriyama, posted a longer version of the viral clip on YouTube on October 16, 2014, captioned in Japanese, "Tokyo Fire Department demonstrates Rescue Robot at Crisis Management Industry Exhibition 2014."

A video on the YouTube channel Hikobon Channel, uploaded on April 22, 2014, shows a demonstration of the robot. The description, in Japanese, reads, "Demonstration of a robot operation. It is a detection-type remote sensing device and a rescue robot at the 2014 Firefighting Technology and Safety Center Open House." 

Screenshots of the videos on YouTube showing the rescue robot (Source: YouTube/Altered by Logically Facts)

We compared the frames from the clip and the above videos found on YouTube. The viral video and Moriyama’s video capture the robot with the blue container at 0:06 and 2:22, respectively. At the 0:07 mark, the viral footage shows the man in an orange uniform operating the screens, which matches 1:00 mark in the video by Moriyama.

Comparison between the viral clip and the Kazumichi Moriyama video (Source: X/YouTube/Altered by Logically Facts)

The 0:03 timestamp of the viral video matches the man being pulled by the robot with the video by Hikobon Channel at 9:39 mark. 

Comparison between the viral clip and the Hikobon Channel video (Source: X/YouTube/Altered by Logically Facts)

On July 16, 2012, Japanese architect Shuhei ENDO posted a video on YouTube showing the robot with a description in Japanese, which stated that it showed a rescue robot at an exhibition. The description stated the robot was demonstrated at the public opening of the Tokyo Fire Department's 3rd Fire Department Headquarters, Fire Rescue Task Force, and the Fire Technology and Safety Center, an affiliated organization of the Tokyo Fire Department, in Shibuya Ward.

Screenshot of the video on YouTube showing the rescue robot (Source: YouTube/Altered by Logically Facts)

Comparing both videos, we found that the same man in the grey shirt being loaded into the robot at the 0:09 mark of the viral video is seen in the clip by Shuhei ENDO at the 5:02 timestamp. 

Comparison between the viral clip and the Shuhei ENDO video (Source: X/YouTube/Altered by Logically Facts)

What about the robot?
On July 31, 2019, Device Plus, a website by electronic parts and semiconductors manufacturer ROHM, published an article headlined "Robots to the Rescue: Discover the New Generation of Life-saving Robots" which featured an image of the rescue robot. They explained that as Japan is in an area that is prone to earthquakes, Japanese scientists and engineers are "highly motivated to find ways to reduce the impact of earthquakes. They developed a robot, the RoboCue, used by the Tokyo Fire Department, originally to retrieve victims near bomb sites. "In an earthquake zone, this kind of robot could be used to explore damaged buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure for victims. It requires remote guidance from a human operator to find people,” Device Plus explained.

Getty Images published an image of the robot in 2008 captioned "Anti-Terrorism Exercise Take Place In Tokyo." They said this is Robo-Q, a rescue robot of the Tokyo Fire Department "designed to collect humans from environments dangerous to firefighters."

The verdict
A rescue robot developed in Japan has been misrepresented as a robot made in China as a cadaver-collecting machine.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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